Difference Between Dhanb and Khati’ah

CategoriesKnowledge [312]

Fatwa ID: 04146

Answered by: Maulana Imran Mughal




Does anyone know the difference between ذنب and خطيىة ?


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful




To recognize the difference between the two, we will need to observe their definitions.

Sayyid Sharif Al-Jurjani has defined ‘Dhanb’ as What prevents you from Allah.[1]

Imam Al-Raghib Al-Isfahani writes the following about ‘Dhanb’:

‘Dhanb’ literally means to grab a tail (dhanab in Arabic) of something. Which is why it is also called a punishment, considering what happens as a result of the ‘dhanb.’[2]

Ibn Mandhur has simply defined ‘Dhanb’ as an ithm(sin), jurm(crime), and ma’siyah(disobedience).[3]


In the Quran, Allah makes specific mention of how it is incumbent upon a person who has committed a ‘Dhanb’ to seek forgiveness for that sin, equating ‘Dhanb’ to sin against the rights of Allah, He says, “And observe patience, for indeed the promise of Allah is truth, and seek forgiveness for your sin…”[4]


Sharif Al-Jurjani has defined ‘Khati’ah’ as: It is what human beings have no intention in, it is a genuine excuse if derived from ijtihad. It is taken as a doubt in establishing the Hudud but will still be binding in terms of the rights of others whereby the paying of the blood money will become incumbent on him.[5]


Imam Al-Raghib Al-Isfahani writes that a ‘Khati’ah’ can either be purposefully and intentionally wanting something that is wrong, or it can be wanting something good which turns out the opposite (in simpler words a genuine mistake or error).


He also mentions, that a ‘Dhanb’ and ‘Khati’ah’ can be used interchangeably, as in the verse of the Quran “And there came Pharaoh and those before him and the overturned cities with sin.”[6][7]                  


Ibn Mandhur writes the same regarding ‘Khati’ah,’ that it can either mean purposefully doing something wrong in which it will be considered a synonym for ‘Dhanb,’ however, it can also be used as an error. The second meaning being derived from the original use of the word in its verb form to refer to someone who missed the target in an archery session.[8]


In conclusion, the difference can be boiled down to the inherent intention behind the action, whereby a ‘Dhanb’ will not be used except with regards to purposefully committing a sin, whereas a ‘Khati’ah’ may be used for an action whereby the intention was sinister in nature or not, rendering it a synonym of sin in the first scenario, and a mere mistake or error in the second.



Only Allah knows best


Written by Maulana Imran Mughal

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham




[1]Sayyid Sharif Al-Jurjani, Mu’jam Al-Tareefaat (Cairo: Dar Al-Fadilat), 93.


[2] Imam Al-Raghib Al-Isfahani, Mufradat Alfadh Al-Quran (Damascus: Dar Al-Qalam, 2009), 331.


[3] Ibn Mandhur, Lisan al-Arab, Page 1519.


[4] Quran, 40:55.


[5]Sayyid Sharif Al-Jurjani, Mu’jam Al-Tareefaat (Cairo: Dar Al-Fadilat), 88.


[6]Quran, 69:9.


[7]Imam Al-Raghib Al-Isfahani, Mufradat Alfadh Al-Quran (Damascus: Dar Al-Qalam, 2009), 228.


[8]Ibn Mandhur, Lisan al-Arab, Page 1192-1194.


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